February 15, 2022

How to Hold Candid Conversations with Your Team: The Art of Radical Candor

Get on board the new collaborative management movement and use radical candor to influence a healthy feedback style on your team. Here’s three tools you need to get started today!

Picture of By Stuart Paap

By Stuart Paap

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As a team leader or an emerging leader, it’s your job to tell your team what to do and make sure they get the job done right.

… or is it? 

According to a new movement toward collaborative management, simply telling people what to do is not the best way to lead a team.

Creating a culture of feedback and guidance is absolutely essential to building a cohesive team that is primed to innovate and deliver high-value outcomes. 

So, how do you do this? 

Care personally – challenge directly. 

Enter: The art of “Radical Candor.”

The phrase “Radical Candor” was coined and popularised by CEO coach and author Kim Scott. For more information on the origins of the phrase and in-depth tools to put it into practice, visit the Radical Candor website, or check out Kim’s book: Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

In this article, we’re going to give you the top three tools you need to start using radical candor on your own team today.

1. Lead with Engagement and Promote Team Dialogue

Being candid is more than simply sharing your honest opinions about something. Candor is a dialogue – you don’t simply make a statement and move on, you need to be prepared to have a conversation. When you have a subject you want to address with a member of your team – be it praise or criticism – make sure you put some time aside for a discussion.

2. Lead with Empathy

If you want to be a great leader or manager, empathy and radical candor go hand-in-hand. Before you start having a candid conversation with someone on your team, you need to think like a human before you act like a manager. If they’re in a bad mood, hold on to your criticisms for a better moment so that you know your message will be heard. You need to consider not only what you are going to say, but how your words will be heard, and what impact they will have.

3. Promote Team Collaboration

If you want to foster a culture of honesty, then you need to be prepared to accept honesty in return. At some point, you may be told that your attempts at engagement or empathy have fallen flat – and that’s okay, because you are a part of the team and you can make mistakes and learn from them, too. 

Provide space for your team to offer constructive feedback – it will give your team a safe outlet, allow you to lead by example – and you might learn something new about yourself and have an opportunity to grow as a leader!)

Improve Candid Conversations, Improve Your Team

Watch: Radical Candor in 6 Minutes with Kim Scott YouTube Video.

Listen: To this Harvard Business Review podcast episode with Kim Scott.

Do: Choose to be candid and empathic with your team today. 

Contact: Tell me what you think – what do teams need most in the new realities of 2022 today? Contact me here.

Additional Reading: